Letterkenny Courthouse

Court appearance for Derry man who sped from lockdown Covid checkpoint

October 11, 2020

GARDAÍ were forced to take avoidance measures after a County Derry man performed a burnout and sped away from a Covid-19 checkpoint while on his way to do shopping in Donegal.

Alan Armstrong (49) of Clana Rury, Claudy, was before Buncrana District Court charged with dangerous driving arising out of an incident on April 26, 2020.

Gardaí were operating a Covid-19 checkpoint at Bridgend when they stopped a Mercedes coming from Derry. Armstrong informed Gardai that he was traveling from Claudy in County Derry to Aldi in Buncrana for shopping.

Gardaí informed Armstrong that he was traveling 35km and were in the process of going through Covid-19 enforcements when Armstrong performed a burnout manoeuvre, spun the back wheels of his car and ‘swayed over and back’.

Sergeant Jim Collins told the court that Garda Oates had to take avoidance action as Armstrong took off at speed. A number of Garda vehicles pursued for around 4km before he was stopped.

Solicitor for Armstrong said ‘the red mist came down’ on his client.

“There is no explanation.” Mr Kelly said. “He drives 70 miles a day for work, he has worked all his life and by all accounts is a model citizen. This is an aberration and i would ask that the court treat it as such.

“He cannot provide a reason for what he did. He was on medication, had been furloughed from work and was suffering from depression.

“His wife was in the car with him and asked him to calm down.

“He apologised to the Gardaí when he calmed down. He has never done anything like this before and he assures me that it won’t happen again.”

Judge Paul Kelly said that Armstrong’s action were ‘an appalling way to treat Gardaí who were performing a very difficult function when the country was in lockdown’.

“He was misbehaving on a number of fronts, first of all drive 35k into the jurisdiction when the country was almost closed completely,” Judge Kelly said.

“Then he behaved how he did. He put Gardaí in danger and that is just unacceptable.”

With Armstrong having no previous convictions and given that he tendered  a plea, Judge Kelly said he would allow the defendant to keep his licence on this occasion.

Judge Paul Kelly reduced the charge to one of careless driving and fined Armstrong €500.



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